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Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, Erie-Lackawanna and Lackawanna Cutoff


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Lackawanna station New Hartford

The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company

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Welcome to our Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad WebSite

Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:

Our feature article is about Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad history .

We have other great articles about Utica and the Lackawanna , the DL&W Ithaca Branch, and a map of the DL&W in Ithaca. Oswego and Syracuse Railroad . DL&W in Oswego , and DL&W on the West Side of New York City .

We have a great section on the Lackawanna Cutoff and an article "Lackawanna Cutoff: Getting Back on Track in 2006" .

You can follow the Lackawanna on Google Earth .

See our sections on Erie Lackawanna commuting , and the New England Gateway, The New "Alphabet Route" .

Don't miss our reference section .

Abandonment in 2007 between Utica and Binghamton .

See the full story on the three other railroads of Utica, New York

Metro-North Commuter Railroad .

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History


The Richfield Springs branch of the The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company extended through Bridgewater, where it connected with the Unadilla Valley Railroad, a shortline that served Edmeston and New Berlin to Richfield Springs on Canadarago Lake, once a rather fashionable resort. Here, from 1905 until 1940, the DL&W had a passenger and freight connection with the Southern New York Railway, an interurban to Oneonta. Milk and light freight were the chief sources of revenue on this branch. Delaware Otsego subsidiary Central New York Railroad acquired this branch from Richfield Jct. to Richfield Springs, 22 miles, in 1973. Enginehouse was at Richfield Springs. Became part of NYS&W northern division after NYS&W bought the DL&W Syracuse & Utica branches from Conrail in 1982. Traffic on line gradually dropped off. Line east from Bridgewater embargoed in 1990. Abandoned and track removed in 1995, westerly 2-3 miles left in place for stone trains. In 2009: This old railroad is now owned by the Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley LLC in Richfield Springs. They also own the 1930 Newark Milk and Cream Company creamery in South Columbia.

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In earlier articles I have written about the Lackawanna, mention is made of the 34-mile former branch to Ithaca. Not only was it significant historically, but it was also a very interesting operationally. It ran between Owego on the DL&W main line and the college town of Ithaca on Cayuga Lake.

It was the second oldest railroad in the state and was constructed in 1833-34 by the Ithaca and Owego Railroad. This road had originally been chartered in 1828. In 1843 the Cayuga & Susquehanna Railroad acquired it through a mortgage foreclosure. In 1855 it was leased to the Lackawanna but did not become officially owned by the DL&W until July 23, 1946.

Into the 1920's Ithaca was busy with several passenger trains pulled by 4-4-0 camelbacks, a daily freight, and a yard switcher which doubled as a pusher on the switchback leading out of Ithaca. There were even automatic block semaphore signals. Passenger service ended in 1942 and steam gave way to diesels in 1951. Passenger service was more popular on the Lehigh Valley (which also served Ithaca) because of the direct Pennsylvania Station connection in New York City. Until 1933 there was a New York sleeper serving Ithaca. It arrived at 7:30am and left at 11:05pm. When passenger service ceased, there were two scheduled passenger runs left (12:20pm and 6:00pm arrivals/9:30am and 1:25pm departures). In addition, student specials ran to Cornell University.

A trip over the branch featured a long bridge over the Susquehanna River leaving Owego. Intermediate stops were at Catatonk (5.4 miles from Owego); Candor (10.7 miles from Owego); and Willseyville (16 miles from Owego and 18 from Ithaca). The real feature of the ride began on the approach to Ithaca. At that point, the line was about 500 feet above the city. Originally, an inclined plane had been used, but it had been replaced by a switchback in 1850. There was a sensational view of the city and the lake. The track between the upper and lower switches of the switchback was 1.1 miles with a gradient of 100 feet per mile. It took five and a half miles to cover what a crow did in one and a half miles. One street crossed the line three times.

The end of passenger service was the beginning of the end of the branch. Signals were removed and there was no longer a switcher in Ithaca. LCL business remained only at Ithaca and Candor. The track between Ithaca and Candor was abandoned in 1956 and the Owego-Candor section in 1957. The branch was in bad condition as no maintenance had been done since passenger trains quit and the bridge at Owego needed heavy repairs.

The Lehigh Valley bought the trackage in Ithaca and operated it as an industrial siding.

Ithaca Branch

Originally, Ithaca & Owego, later Cayuga & Susquehanna.

Station Mile Note
Ithaca 0
Lower Switch 4.51 Switchback, originally incline plane up South Hill.
Upper Switch 5.62 as above
Conover 5.82
Summit 9.73
Caroline 12.24
Wilseyville 18.06
Candor 23.37
Catatonk 28.70
Owego 34.03


Passenger service discontinued March 29, 1942

Abandonment authorized Oct. 25, 1956

Discontinued Ithaca-Candor, Dec. 4, 1956;

Candor to Oswego, May 25, 1957.

Bridge over Susquehanna River in Owego River removed in 1959.

Last locomotive on line: #409, Alco #69257 600 HP switcher. Became Erie-Lackawanna #325.

By Ken Kinlock at
Find out more on the ex-Lackawanna switchback in Ithaca at this Railroad.Net forum
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DL&W on the West Side of New York City

Pier 68 alongside the West Side Highway was a Lackawanna freight terminal. Both the pier and the highway deterioriated and both are gone. The Lackawanna had no connection with the West Side Freight Railroad.
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This Company was formed April 29, 1839, and the route was surveyed during the summer of that year. The Company was fully organized March 25, 1847. The road was opened in October, 1848, thirty-five miles and a half in length. In 1872 it passed under the management of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company. It finally merged with the DL&W in 1945.

DL&W in Oswego

The Lackawanna had a coal dock in Oswego, but it was older and not too large. Many Great Lakes boats were too long and too deep for loading at the Oswego dock. Lots of times, coal loads had to go to the Pennsylvania for loading at Sodus Point. The matter of extra dredging at Oswego was up but the Railroad did not seem disposed to spend the extra money to dredge to a sufficient depth and length to accommodate the modern boats.
Abandonment Published on: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NORWICH – The county's top economic development official told lawmakers this week that the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway planned to permanently abandon its right-of-way between Chenango Forks and Sherburne in three months.

Service on that portion of the line from Binghamton to Utica stopped last June after the flood in the region damaged some rail sections. Company representatives have said, however, that abandonment procedures were previously underway due to underutilization of the route.

Estimates for the track repairs have ranged from $250,000 to $400,000, and NYS&W Railroad "would be looking for federal and state funds to keep going,"
DL&W Streamliner Postcard
DL&W Streamliner Postcard

In September, 2006: The NYSW has issued a public notice listing the following rail lines which it "anticipates will be the subject of an abandonment or discontinuance application to be filed within three years:"

1. NYSW Utica Main Line between Chenango Forks & Sangerfield in NY, MP202.62 - MP 263.50.

2. Fay Street Branch in Utica, NY, MP 284.80 - 285.22.
Snow Belt in New York State Boonville Station There is a "Snow Belt" in New York State that runs above Syracuse and Utica. It goes East from Oswego to at least Boonville. Here's the station at Boonville.

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Erie Lackawanna Commuting

The Erie-Lackawanna operated a major suburban service to the New York suburbs in New Jersey. The four routes plus three branches radiate from north to west from Hoboken where there is a connection with PATH rapid transit trains into New York. The NJ&NY line, formerly New Jersey & New York Railroad, travels 30.6 miles to Spring Valley. The New York Division Main Line, along with the Bergen County branch, extend 30.5 miles to Suffern. There is additional service to Port Jervis which is 87 miles from Hoboken. The 48-mile Greenwood Lake-Boonton line goes through Dover to Net Cong. The last line extends 40.5 miles to Dover. There are two branches (Montclair and Gladstone).

In 1970, Erie-Lackawanna commuter volume was 35,000 daily passengers on 210 trains. They ran 98% on-time. EL came into being in 1960 when the Erie and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western merged. It amounted to the weak banding together to survive. Passenger terminal operations had previously been consolidated at Hoboken. Other operating efficiencies were realized by abandoning and realigning some tracks. Part of the Boonton line was abandoned when a new connection was made with the Greenwood Lake line at Mountain View. Service was abandoned on the Northern Branch (Erie line to Nyack), Newark Branch and Caldwell Branch. Sunday service was lost.

In the mid-1920's, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western's Morris & Essex Division was out of capacity. This New Jersey steam railroad could not squeeze any more traffic onto its tracks or any more tracks onto its roadbed in the New York metropolitan area. The officials decided to electrify the railroad because electric trains, with their higher rate of acceleration, would provide faster service and so handle the increased volume of traffic. Westbound steam trains took 34 minutes to reach Montclair while electrics could cover the distance in 27 minutes. Accordingly, a project was begun in 1928 to electrify the road from Hoboken to Morristown and Dover (the Morris & Essex line) as well as the branches to Montclair and Gladstone which diverge at Roseville Avenue and Summit, respectively.

While other area electrifications were either 600-volt D.C. or 11,000-volt A.C., DL&W went for 3,000-volt D.C. overhead catenary similar to the Milwaukee Road. 70 miles of road (160 miles of track) were electrified. Originally, it was planned to extend the electrification as far west as Scranton, Pennsylvania, and to have heavy duty motors haul long freight trains across the Poconos. Pullman built 140 motor cars which were semipermanently coupled with converted steam-hauled coaches built between 1912 and 1925. This olive-drab commuter equipment served Hudson, Morris, Essex, Union and Somerset counties for over half a century. Most of the cars that started service when the line was electrified were still running at the end. General Electric, as the long-time advocate of D.C. rail traction, was chosen as the car equipment supplier. Each car had four 230 h.p. motors. Because they were rated at 1500 volts, two motors were permanently connected in series. Maximum speed on level track was 67 miles per hour after accelerating at 1 1/2 miles per second. The seats were of stiff rattan and cooling was by ceiling fans. These M-U cars were known as Edison coaches because Thomas Edison dedicated them.

The Gladstone branch, formerly the Passaic and Delaware, is still referred to as the P&D. This scenic, single track 22-mile line, whose catenary is supported on brackets attached to wooden poles; resembled an interurban. Train operation is unusual and fascinating. Off-peak trains were coupled/uncoupled at Summit. Rush hour trains ran to Hoboken. Trains running in opposite directions had scheduled meets.

The railroad operated four "membership" cars. These were for the commuter who had "arrived" economically. They were parlor cars built between 1912 and 1917 with carpeted floors, wicker arm chairs, and ice-activated air conditioning.

Other routes were less important as far as traffic was concerned and were never electrified. There was absolutely no electrification on the former Erie Railroad. These operated to Suffern, Spring Valley and Port Jervis, NY and to Dover and Netcong NJ. Limited modernization on these lines took place after World War II and steam surrendered to diesel by 1953. No attempt was made to replace the vintage rolling stock. In 1970, first-generation diesels were pulling World War I coaches of two types: ex-DL&W "Boonton" cars; and ex-Erie "Stillwell" coaches (remember the arch windows!). EL continued to use the equipment from Erie and DL&W. MU's, RDC's and diesel-hauled equipment all served well during Erie-Lackawanna's 16-year existence. Almost 200 coaches were required to maintain service.

At Hoboken on the Hudson River is an 18-track stub-end terminal where all the commuter lines terminate. Long-haul passengers don't use it anymore, nor do the ferries that used to run to 23rd Street, Christopher Street and Barclay Street in Manhattan. Instead 25,000 commuters pass through it twice a day in order to use the Hudson "tubes" (really PATH - Port Authority Trans Hudson) (formerly Hudson & Manhattan). 198 electric and 115 diesel trains operate from Hoboken.

Hoboken, formerly solid blue-collar, has been invaded by Yuppies who have rehabbed townhouses and given the city a new tone. It is colorful and full of history. It also is the hometown of Frank Sinatra.

Hoboken's terminal has a waiting room rich in ornamentation and is finished in Louis XIV style. It measures 10,000 square feet and is 55 feet high. One side is ticket windows. Two other walls are occupied by small shops and a bank of telephones. Two flights of stairs lead to the upper level where commuters used to catch the ferries. The upper level is mostly vacant now. A highlight of the waiting room is the Tiffany stained glass ceiling. When opened in 1907, it was considered the world's greatest waterfront terminal. The track canopies were originally panels of glass. They were eventually replaced by other materials which required less maintenance. Many panels are missing and commuters sometimes find themselves in the open. A formal entrance from Hoboken streets is not used by many commuters as the PATH-train connection is all inside. Unused is a boarding area where motorists drove their cars onto the waiting ferries. In 1981, $4.8 million was spent in an initial restoration and other funds have followed. A new ferry service now operates not from the terminal but instead from a barge in the river.

Hoboken is now home to NJ Transit's business car - an open-end observation car. There is also a lot of work equipment in the yard to the side of the train sheds.

When the ferries were discontinued in 1967, only 8,000 daily riders used them. As well as the subway tunnels, their business was killed by the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, George Washington Bridge and the Pennsylvania Railroad tunnels. The 1990's saw ferries returning!

Hoboken had been DL&W-only until 1957. That year the Erie mostly moved out of its Pavonia Street Station in Jersey City. Their Northern Division to Nyack was left (for a while until passenger service dropped). Three years later, DL&W and Erie merged into the Erie-Lackawanna. This made Hoboken the third-largest passenger station in the country (after Penn Station and Grand Central).

The electric trains to Dover share the Hoboken terminal with the locomotive-hauled trains. After passing a big yard, they operate through the Bergen Hill tunnel, beyond which many non-electrics turn off for a run through the Jersey Meadows. The electrics run through an affluent area with beautiful scenery, interesting station buildings, and continuous curves and grades.

With government help, several improvements were made: 1967 saw 105 push-pull cars from Pullman and 23 diesels from GE come on the property. In 1969, NJDOT acquired 26 1939 Budd streamliners from Sante Fe. Also the E-L cars and E-8's used in intercity service became commuter when long-haul passenger traffic was killed.

The need for power compatible with the rest of the Northeast Corridor killed the old electrification. Already bankrupt, EL gave up to CONRAIL in 1976. The western portion (no commuter service) was abandoned or cut back as old Penn Central routes saw a concentration of traffic. Now this is a NJTransit operation in New Jersey and Metro-North in NY State.

By Ken Kinlock at
Abandoned Railroads of the US - All Things Related to Abandoned Railroads
Thousands of miles of railroads have been abandoned in the United States, much of it in the last 30 years. All of these railroad lines have a history and a story. This club is dedicated to the preservation of the history of each of these former railroad lines. Please join and contribute.
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See another "Alphabet Route" that used the Ontario & Western to connect Maybrook to the DL&W and Lehigh Valley.
Richfield Springs
The Central New York Railroad
ran to
Richfield Springs.
This traffic signal controlled cars on
historic Route 20 for many years.

The Utica, Chenango & Susquehanna Valley Railroad was organized in 1866 and came under the Lackawanna in 1870. Inclusion of the Greene Railroad Company linked up this road with the Syracuse route at Chenango Forks. As well as providing an important link, it also put the Lackawanna in the resort business. The branch to Richfield Springs was on Canadarago Lake and tourist trains now ran from Hoboken. The Utica-Binghamton line was a big dairy carrier and solid milk trains ran until the late 1940's. Army reservists also used this line up to the 50’s to travel from New Jersey to Utica then over the New York Central’s St. Lawrence Division to Camp Drum near Watertown.

Scranton Division, Utica Branch

Miles from Binghamton.

Station Mile Note
Chenango Forks 11.1
Willard's 12.0
Greene 19.2
Brisben 25.0
Coventry 28.5
Oxford 33.1
Haynes 36.5
Norwich 41.3 Ontario & Western
Galena 46.9
Sherburne 52.4
Earlville 57.5
Poolville 60.0
Hubbardsville 64.2
North Brookfield 68.0
Sangerfield 72.4
Waterville 73.7
Paris 77.9
Richfield Junction 81.7 Richfield Springs Branch
Clayville 83.9
Sauquoit 85.9
Chadwicks 87.3
Washington Mills 89.9
New Hartford 91.1
West Utica 94.0
Utica 95.2 NYC Union Station

Richfield Springs Branch

Station Mile Note
Richfield Junction 0
Bridgewater 4.7 Unadilla Valley Railroad
Unadilla Forks 5.5
West Winfield 7.6
East Winfield 9.7
Cedarvale 11.6
Miller's Mills 13.2
Young's Crossing 14.0
South Columbia 18.0
Richfield Springs 21.7
Passenger service discontinued April 29, 1950.
Utica branch to Conrail, April 1, 1976, to New York, Susquehanna & Western, April, 1982.
Milk train, which carried passengers on Richfield Springs branch, discontinued July, 1938.
NYS&W operated this branch as "Central New York RR." Abandoned Bridgewater to Richfield Springs in 1995.

Starucca Viaduct

The view up the Susquehanna River valley is one of surpassing beauty. It has been an inspiration to painter and poet alike through the years. The Starrucca Viaduct stands as a monument to the instinctive artistry of its builders. Constructed of native stone it nestles in the Starrucca Valley between the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Catskill Mountains; and looks as if it belongs.

This structure is a historic landmark bridge, 1040 feet long, comprised of 17 Roman arches and constructed of blocks of cut sandstone. Begun in 1847, it was completed in record time in November, 1848. It is in active use today, over which many trains run on a regular, daily basis.

The building of the Starrucca Viaduct and the history of the building of the Erie Railroad in this vicinity has been an interesting one.

Beginning in 1831, Governor Marcy appointed James Seymour to survey a rail route in southern New York and through Pennsylvania. The surveying parties, trying to locate a way for the railroad, found the nine miles from Gulf Summit PA to Susquehanna PA, most forbidding. The obstacles of nature appeared insurmountable to everyone.

Various routes were tried and given up. In 1840 a survey party discovered the remarkable glen at Gulf Summit, between the waters of the Cascade Creek, going to the Susquehanna, and McClure Brook, going to the Delaware. An engineer named John Anderson traced a line from Deposit NY to Lanesboro PA passing through the rocks and just wide enough for the road. Finding a way through this rocky glen enabled them to get over on the Susquehanna River side, which would allow them a good grade to Elmira and west. The grade of this route was 66 feet on the Delaware side and 70 feet on the Susquehanna side, a distance of 16 miles.

The 1834 survey was also unsatisfactory in that the line missed Binghamton. The 1840 survey passed directly through the village. Legislation was passed and it was decided to overcome the obstacles of nature and build the road over the Randolph hills to Susquehanna. This was the most difficult and expensive nine miles of railroad ever built up to that time. A monument still stands in Deposit where ground was broken for the line.

The cost to carve a roadbed (wide enough for one track) through the glen of rocks at Gulf Summit was the then-enormous sum of $200,000. A strong current of air was constantly sweeping through it, and the temperature on the hottest days was uncomfortably cool. Winter snow blockages resulted whenever a wintry storm swept over the mountain. The cut ended up 150 feet deep.

Nearby a gulf 184 feet deep and 250 feet wide over the Cascade Creek had to be bridged. Three miles beyond, at Lanesboro, a bridge over the Starrucca Creek was needed. This proved to be especially difficult as the distance was over a quarter of a mile and more than 110 feet deep. The Canawacta Creek valley at the lower end of Lanesboro also required bridging.

The first contract for building the Starrucca viaduct was let in 1847 for $375,000. The builders went belly up. Two other contractors failed. A proposition was submitted to James P. Kirkwood, a Scotchman. He visited the site and carefully investigated it before telling the Erie he could do it provided cost was no object. He got the go-ahead.

Three miles up the Starrucca Creek he opened quarries to get the stone. Next he constructed a wooden track on each side of the stream which brought the material to the work in cars. Stone was also brought from a quarry near Cascade. A city of tents arose to house the 800 workers he hired. A half million feet of lumber was used in the false work which was extended across the valley. Operations were conducted both day and night and the viaduct was completed ahead of schedule. Laborers received a wage of $1.00 a day.

The historic bridge appears to be everlasting and proved the Erie motto "Old Reliable". It even outlasted the Erie! Sometimes called the "Stone Bridge", it stands today as a monument to the engineering science and stone masons of that day.

Some statistics on the viaduct:

Built to accommodate only one track (broad gauge) and the 1848 engines of 100,000 pounds, it has long carried two tracks and engines of over 800,000 pounds. Only lime and sand mortar were used in building the bridge. The more weight running over it, the more compact and solid it becomes. Every pier stands today just as it did when completed, and the gigantic top stones on top of the bridge are a tribute to the skill of the builders.

After completing the bridge, there was another worthwhile spectacle in the job of removing the falsework. It had to be done in the winter because of the danger of fire which would have ruined the whole bridge. Men were suspended 100 feet above the valley prying out beams and timbers and lowering them to the ground.

Brawls were quite common outside of working hours, as would be expected of any army composed of so many nationalities. Remarkably, no man was killed or injured until the removal of the temporary false work when one man was injured. It is thought he died afterwards.

The first engine to cross the viaduct was named "Orange". Nobody dared ride it so everybody got off. They gave it enough steam to keep it moving. Men reboarded it on the other side.

Also in northeastern Pennsylvania is the Tunkhannock Viaduct. Inspired by, and modeled after, the incredible ancient Roman aqueduct at what is today Nimes, France, this viaduct is a magnificent, landmark structure which helped propel American engineering skills into a world class. This railroad bridge was completed in 1915; is constructed entirely of formed concrete, displacing 4.5 million cubic feet; is 2,375 feet long and stands 240 feet high.

By Ken Kinlock at
milk train

Once upon a time, milk trains were important

New York Central Milk Business
Creamery in South Columbia, New York
There were two basic types of milk trains – the very slow all-stops local that picked up milk cans from rural platforms and delivered them to a local creamery, and those that moved consolidated carloads from these creameries to big city bottling plants. Individual cars sometimes moved on lesser trains. These were dedicated trains of purpose-built cars carrying milk. Early on, all milk was shipped in cans, which lead to specialized "can cars" with larger side doors to facilitate loading and unloading (some roads just used baggage cars). In later years, bulk carriers with glass-lined tanks were used. Speed was the key to preventing spoilage, so milk cars were set up for high speed service, featuring the same types of trucks, brakes, communication & steam lines as found on passenger cars.
Pictorial of the Syracuse & Utica branches, today operated by the New York, Susquehanna, and Western Railway Corp. In 1983, Conrail sold the former DL&W/EL lines to the Delaware Otsego Corp. which today operates it as the Northern Division of the NYS&W. October 2004 marked the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Syracuse line.
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Reefer on the New Haven On passenger trains, railroads operated lots of equipment other than sleepers, coaches, dining cars, etc. This equipment was generally called 'head-end' equipment, these 'freight' cars were at one time plentiful and highly profitable for the railroads. In the heyday of passenger service, these industries were a big part of the railroad's operations, and got serious attention.
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ec-bp was established in 2005 as the advocate for lowering the barriers to the adoption of EDI, and our email newsletter has been published every month since that time. Our focus has expanded beyond EDI to encompas the full gamut of supply chain practices and technologies. In addition, our readership has grown to become the largest of any similarly focused publication, and has expanded to include more than 90,000 professionals involved in nearly every aspect of the supply chain.
Today’s supply chain is more than simple transport of EDI documents. The complexity of maintaining compliance with trading partners, managing the ever increasing amount of data, and analyzing that data to drive constant improvement in processes and service take supply chain professionals far beyond the basics of mapping EDI documents.
BLOGS on EC-BP.COM Troop Trains Troop Train Photo Album Photos of a trip from Texas to New York City (World War II) as an armored division brings its equipment and troops to the port.
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